Gun buybacks launch in five communities June 11, up to $200 offered per weapon

A peace office works at the gun buyback event held last year in Cambridge. (Photo: Cambridge Police Department)
A peace office works at the gun buyback event held last year in Cambridge. (Photo: Cambridge Police Department)

From the Cambridge Police Department, May 19, 2016: Community- and faith-based organizations, five area police departments – in Cambridge, Somerville, Arlington, Belmont and Watertown – and the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office are partnering to host the county’s first regional gun buyback initiative in June, officials announced.

The regional initiative, modeled on efforts in Cambridge and other communities in Middlesex County over the past three years, is focused on providing residents with a safe and secure way of removing unwanted firearms from their homes. Buyback events will occur throughout the month of June, beginning June 11 in Cambridge, Arlington and Belmont; continuing June 18 in Watertown; and concluding June 25 in Somerville.

From 9 a.m. to noon June 11, volunteers and public safety officers at the parking lot of the Pentecostal Tabernacle, 77 Columbia St., in Cambridge’s Area IV/Port neighborhood, will accept firearms that are unloaded and stored in a bag, box or case. The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office and State Police will destroy all turned-in firearms. A gift card ranging between $50 to $200 in value will be provided for each firearm received, and a $5 gift card for ice cream will be provided to any child turning in toy guns.

“Nationwide, more than 20,000 people commit suicide with a firearm and another 16,000 are injured in unintentional shootings each year,” Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian said. “Providing residents with an avenue to safely dispose of unwanted firearms makes our communities – and especially our homes – safer, and we are proud to support our partners in this effort.”

According to the most recent data available from the state’s Department of Public Health, 115 Massachusetts residents died as a result of a firearm-related suicide in 2013.

“By having an unwanted firearm in a home, children, people with mental illness and those at risk of domestic violence can be at risk of a preventable tragedy,” said Christopher Burke, acting commissioner of the Cambridge Police Department, which hosted its first gun buyback event last year. “With each of the five communities pulling together and collaborating regionally, we recognize that there can be a greater impact in our respective cities and towns.”

Officials believe the regional approach will provide residents with additional opportunities to remove unwanted firearms from their homes. Residents of the five communities can turn in unwanted firearms at any of the sites.

The Sheriff’s Office has provided support to gun-buyback initiatives in seven communities since October 2013, including four of the five communities participating in the regional initiative. In total, 299 unwanted firearms were turned in during those previous events.

“This initiative represents a powerful opportunity for individuals, organizations and houses of faith to come together to create safer homes and safer communities,” said Lori Lander, founding organizer at the nonprofit Many Helping Hands, one of the nonprofits and charities participating in the buybacks.

For information, including on volunteering, click here.

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